New Cardiff Airport passport gates paid for by Welsh taxpayer

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Passengers at Cardiff can use e-passport gates instead of seeing a border control official

A £1m upgrade to border security at Cardiff Airport will be paid for by the Welsh taxpayer after a row over which government should foot the bill.

Welsh ministers had wanted the UK Border Force to pay for new e-passport gates, but claim the airport did not have enough passengers to qualify for funding.

Instead, the Welsh Government is paying for the kit to be installed.

The Home Office said the e-gates would be installed from January 2019.

Cardiff Airport used to have e-passport gates but they were removed by the UK Border Force when the technology became out-of-date.

The gates are designed to get passengers through security faster, by allowing them to use a self-scanning machine on newer passports.

Welsh ministers bought Cardiff Airport in 2013, and earlier this year announced investment of £6m to fund improvements in the terminal.

Image caption,
Cardiff Airport had e-passport gates before they were removed because the technology was out-of-date

Economy Secretary Ken Skates said despite welcoming a million passengers so far this year, Cardiff Airport "has not yet reached the UK government's two million inbound passenger milestone that would enable it to qualify for free e-gates".

"We have written to the UK government on the issue of e-gates a number of times, pointing out the inequity of effectively subsidising larger airports whilst discriminating against smaller ones," he said.

"However, the UK Border Force has ignored these arguments."

Borders and immigration are not devolved and are handled by the UK Border Force - a part of the Home Office.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Many factors are taken into account when deciding whether an airport should have e-gates, including the number of international passengers arriving.

"The decision not to replace the gates in Cardiff Airport was consistent with previous decisions made elsewhere in the UK since 2016/17.

"We are working with Cardiff Airport to install e-gates from January next year."

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